FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets' eye-popping offense that had a stunning opening-week scoring splurge was nowhere to be found for most of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Neither was Tim Tebow, who had even less of a role than he did in Week 1.
Rex Ryan's self-proclaimed dominant defense also missed plenty of tackles late in the game.
"We made too many mistakes to beat Pittsburgh," Ryan said.
That's for sure, and an understatement at that.
There was little resemblance to the team that thrashed the Buffalo Bills 48-28 a week earlier, although things started out on a bright note. The Jets (1-1) led 10-6 in the second quarter and appeared in good shape to make a run at only their second win at Heinz Field.
Then, everything went sour in a hurry.
The offense couldn't convert on third downs, finishing a dismal 4 of 12. Mark Sanchez didn't complete a pass to any of his wide receivers in the second or third quarters, ending up 10 of 27 for 138 yards and a touchdown with a lousy 66.6 quarterback rating. He was off target on some throws, but his receivers also failed to haul in a few, too.
The defense kept the Jets in the game while the offense struggled — until they couldn't make several big tackles.
"If we're going to be a dominant defense, we can't allow people to break that many tackles and to extend plays that long," linebacker Aaron Maybin said. "You're never going to play a perfect game and you're going to have things like that happen, but on days like this, this is one of those days when we try to pay attention to those details as much as possible."
New York's special teams unit wasn't without blame, either. Jeremy Kerley muffed a punt in the third quarter, and punter Robert Malone was inconsistent.
"Our week's preparation going into the Buffalo game, we looked different than we did last week," Ryan said. "Last week, we had guys out, we weren't as sharp during the week as we were the previous week, and it carried over to the game, obviously."
Well, the Jets better regroup in a hurry with the AFC East-rival Miami Dolphins (1-1) up next. Whether that means more Tebow than the first two weeks, that remains to be seen.
Tebow took only three offensive snaps — all in one second-half drive — leading many to wonder if the Jets should use him more. For months, the Jets have talked about how his presence alone leads to game-planning problems for defensive coordinators who need to account for him. So far, Tebow has had little impact on the field.
The secretive wildcat package has stayed mostly under wraps, and that's OK as far as Ryan is concerned.
"We've always said from Day 1 that we can do it 20 times, 40 times, 10 times, two times, whatever, but we determine that, OK?" Ryan said, taking a slightly defensive tone. "It's not just going to be that these specific things have to be lined up. It's just that that's exactly what happened in this game. Does that mean that given the exact same scenario against a different opponent that we may or may not use it? That'll be up to us."
Tebow didn't see the field on offense until the third quarter and the Jets trailing 20-10. The superstar backup took a snap out of the shotgun and immediately ran for 22 yards to get New York to midfield, pumping his fists and yelling.